This quote can be found on the back of the Trade Paperback, and it could not be more correct. It's a statement that truly captures the essence of Watchmen, a statement of bold truth and a goal for all.
When you first pick up the Watchmen, in page form, you get a blast of artwork that you would never expect to see in modern-day comics. There's a lot of two-tone colors, using solid colors with it's appropriate shade where necessary. The details are abundant, and throughout the book you can get a clear picture of exactly what is going on. It's almost like they wrote the script for the movie as they wrote the book!
So let's wrap up what Watchmen is all about: Someone killed the Comedian, a hero from the Vietnam war. Rorschach, another costumed hero and psychological detective, deduces that someone is killing and/or eliminating heroes. The story takes turns at developing several plots, such as Dr Manhattan, a scientific being with god-like abilities, claim a role of guilt in believing to have caused several people cancer and leaving the planet. As the story progresses, we find that the overall plot is to cause a large disturbance to divert the world attention away momentarily and avoid an overall Armageddon. The Comedian was the first to uncover the plot, as well as that Ozymandias, another hero, was behind it.
So what do we have as far as characters go?
We have the Silk Spectre, who is just a female human with training in various martial arts. We don't see much as far as raw power, just good looks and fighting.
We have Dr. Manhattan, is a man who was dematerialized and reconstructed after the events of Intrinsic Field Experiment 15. He has a wide array of abilities, including teleportation, cloning, electrical powers, telekinesis, psychic abilities, instantaneous growth and shrinking, and being able to deconstruct or reconstruct pretty much anything, including human bodies.
We have Ozymandias, who until the end of the movie we thought to have no powers at all outside of an incredible intellect. It is revealed he has super strength and speed as well.
There are Nite Owl and Rorschach, the first of which is the Watchmen equivalent of Batman. Complete with basement lair, gadgets and money. Rorschach is everything about Batman that Nite Owl isn't- the detective, fighter, and the one who continues to hunt evil as a vigilante. Rorschach, however, is clearly not worried about killing his enemies. Rorschach also has a psychological aspect to him, having his mask be a moving ink-blot test and prefers to make his enemies suffer through severe interrogation, both mentally and physically.
Lastly, we have the Comedian, who was killed at the start of the movie. The Comedian has two aspects, the first being a gunman who wields various forms of ranged weapons and has no restraint killing if it's his target. The Comedian is one of the few who work directly under the government, therefore not technically a vigilante like the rest. In the opening of the book and movie, we witness The Comedian being beaten, giving us light to the fact that he has a superior physical structure being able to take hits for a while, as well as an above average strength, clearly punching concrete and breaking it. The Comedian, in the past events of Watchmen, was also revealed to have raped the original Silk Spectre, and killed a Vietnamese woman in cold blood who had revealed to him that she was pregnant with his child.
The last thing you'll probably want to know about the Watchmen is the simple concept of compare & contrast. While in the movie you have stunning visuals, the book gives you nostalgic pieces of art. Both the movie and the book pretty much have the same script, but with one minor tweak. Well, depending on your dedication, a very BIG tweak. See below:
In the book, the catastrophe that Ozymandias unleashes is a genetically altered squid/octopus. It is teleported into the heart of New York City, and with alterations to it's brain to replicate psychic abilities, wipes out a large number of humans due to the strain of the teleportation and the psychic backlash against those nearby humans. The creature is, unfortunately for it, killed from this strain, so it's not a monster-attack like Godzilla, but more like a psychic bomb. This is where the movie comes into play- there is no squid. Instead, the movie holds a plot where Ozymandias replicates the abilities of Dr. Manhattan to kill many more people in many more cities worldwide. The result is the same, in that the level of this catastrophe ultimately stops the wars and threats of nuclear holocaust, and humanity is steered towards salvation and utopia.
So where does the Watchmen sit? Somewhere near the top, of course. Take the time to go rent the DVD, and watch it, as it is well worth it. The Graphic novel has been reprinted dozens of times, and finding it now, especially with a movie release, should be relatively easy. And if you become a die-hard fan, be sure to check out the "Before Watchmen" series, currently in progress at your local comic book store.